Thursday, April 30, 2015

The No Good - Very Bad - Worste Day at Work

Enjoying a Beautiful Day on the Water!

He was in the bathroom crying, kicking, pounding. I had just shut the door, holding the handle, and counting to ten before I opened the door and began another round. His brother was sound asleep in the room across the hall. As I quickly reached ten I also sighed a rushed prayer that Bug would stay asleep as I dealt with Bear.

To paint a small picture for you the boys and their parents had just come back from a great vacation with ear infections. Along with sickness the boys were adjusting to their Dad being out of town for the week and they were getting re-acclimated to their normal schedule. Monday ended with Bear having a temperature of 104.7, Tuesday ended with both the boys having the antibiotics they needed to fight their ear infections, Wednesday went smooth sailing as we soaked up the sun, and then Thursday...

...Thursday I was standing there counting. The normally levelheaded 3 year old who I spend almost everyday playing with turned into a possessed child that I didn't recognize or know how to handle. He was getting frustrated by every little thing - by frustrated I mean screaming his head off at the top of his lungs and by every little thing I mean - every. little. thing. An hour into my work day the thought of giving him grace was beyond my comprehension because I just didn't have enough to give. Three hours in I had a choice to either laugh or cry. Five hours in - nap time commenced I was holding the door handle wondering what to do next.

Taking a deep breathe I opened the door, calmly told Bear that if he wanted his three stories before nap time he needed to stop crying and talk to me. As he wiped away his tears he climbed into my arms and we headed towards his bedroom. An hour later after finishing up the dishes I was ready to crawl into bed myself; at the same time feeling like some cuddle time with Bear could be just the cure. I opened his door, Bear popped up from his bed when I entered, we picked up blanky, and Bear headed to my room. We spent the next half hour cuddling, laughing, and erasing the trauma of the earlier morning.

Almost a week later the boys are standing here tossing rocks into the water. I hang back to snap a few pictures. Sliding my camera back into my pocket I soak it in - the perfect Seattle day, the boys by the water, the sounds of waves splashing the shores, the birds in the back ground, kid laughter, and the sweet smell of bonfire burning in the early afternoon. AND NO tears, no tantrums, no fighting - just sweet enjoyment of the day.

That is when it hit me - I have the best job. Yes day's like last Thursday happen. The No Good - Very Bad - Worst Day at Work kind of days. But then today happens. Days without papers to push, or phone calls to answer, nor deadlines to abide by. There will be days where I have to shut the door and count to ten. Hours will slowly pass-by when I wonder if I will make it to five o'clock with toddler-hood tantrums that bring their own set of headaches.

Yet still have I have the best job in the world. You know why? Because the struggles will end, the tantrums subside, and tears can be dried. Each day is new and fresh. Every morning brings a clean slate with no mistakes on it yet. So this, this is why I have the best job because everyday, no matter how many mistakes I made the day before, today is a new day.

ceconner© 4.29.2015

Thursday, April 16, 2015

...The Reality of the Diva Nanny

Diva nannies do exist. There are nannies out there trying to see how much they can get...nannies who try to push limits and abuse a good family's generosity.

BUT the reality of the diva nanny is they are the minority in America. A week ago Jane Ridley wrote a pretty bias article in the New York Post called The Rise of the Diva Nanny. After reading the article I couldn't keep my fingers from typing a rebuttal. One that hopefully will not leave the reader with the opinion that all nannies are money hungry, A-list celebrity wanna-bee's, who are expecting their employer to provide sushi and spas days.

The Truth? Most nannies are just trying to make a comparable income to the average working class employee (granted Jane's article address the families to the Upper East Side of NY but let’s broaden our topic to cover the nannies of America).  Most nannies are trying to support themselves and their families by doing something that they love - hanging out with babies and kids. Most nannies do enjoy perks that their employer offers and gladly accept them, just like any other employee would in their field of work.

Being a nanny there are generally some good perks like enjoying sunny days outside, getting to sight see as a job, going to museums/parks, traveling to new places for next to nothing, maybe even enjoying a beach vacation and driving around a fancy car. Jane insinuates one perk is “They’ll (bosses) buy them (nannies) country club memberships to use with their friends on weekends and lend them credit cards.” The truth is that if a family belongs to a club they often will add their nanny onto the membership so he/she can take their charges to lessons, classes, and social events for the family. Using the family credit card to pay for gas to transport the charges, food to feed them, and extras that the parents want the kids to have. The perk is when the nanny is also allowed to use this membership when she is off the clock.

You know the saying “too good to be true”? Apply that to any nanny perk out there. Yes a nanny may get to enjoy a non-alcoholic beverage while soaking up the sun on the beach one minute but the very next they may be running to the restroom to hold back a sick little girl's hair. A nanny may get excited to drive around a car way above her means but while she is being chauffeur for the 3 kids in the back seat. There may be a free weekend that a nanny gets to use the country club membership her nanny family has but only after a long summer of wrangling her charges at the club.

Usually when a job has such high perks there are also draw backs. For a nanny it can be long days, inconsistent schedules, low pay, or minimal benefits. Other draw backs come in the form of the parents - I hate to say it but it's true. Rarely do I head a nanny complain about their charges; often I hear complaints about the parents.

Let me say it again; the vast majority of nannies I have talked to LOVE their charges and take care of them in the same manor they would their own children. The struggles come in with bosses. IT IS NOT every boss and TOTALLY NOT every day but there are some key problems that are way too common for a professional work environment.

The one problem that is a game changer in any floundering parent-nanny relationship is COMMUNICATION! Parent you cannot communicate enough with your nanny!

Jo-Jo*, a full-time nanny, found out that her “4 year old is a special needs child. They NEVER mentioned that in the interview/hiring process (only that he had speech delays). I have never worked with special needs before...”

Lucy*, another full-time nanny, talks about the double standard in her boss’s communication “I am expected to respond to parent’s texts and phone calls immediately, regardless if I am on or off the clock. However, it can take hours or even days for a parent to get back to me. This can be very difficult as I try to plan other things around my work schedule. I am asked, or told, to stay late at a moment’s notice, never asked if I have other plans I may need to attend to after work. I often am unsure when I will be done working for the day, as lack of communication continues it causes these issues.” 

Lucy shares another story “I was hired in the beginning of the summer for an hourly rate that we both agreed on. Three months later and one week before school started, the parents told me they were decreasing my pay by $3.00 an hour because the older child would be at school part of the day. I was extremely disappointed that they waited so long to have this conversation with me. It gave me no time to decide if I needed to find another job that paid me what I needed to financially support myself. This decrease in pay was never discussed in the hiring process; I was blindsided by it.”   

Amy* mentions poor communication from her boss is downright rude “There are many, many times that my mother-boss will tell me she will be home at 5 pm. 5:05 comes around and she texts me saying she will be here at 6pm. No notice ahead of time and honestly no question if it's possible for me to stay. I'm just forced to say yes and I do. I also get no warning if she doesn't need me a certain day until basically 15 minutes before the allotted time I am supposed to be there! After I already have gotten ready, packed my things and was headed out the door!”

Amy’s story is too common. Time and time again I hear a nanny say that her bosses are running late. Day after day. As long as a nanny has notice they usually don’t mind staying an extra hour or two, especially if they are paid hourly. It is the last minute notice – which assumes the nanny does not have plans after work. In almost any other job if you are asked to stay late but have a doctor’s appointment you can generally say no and leave. As a nanny if the parent texts you that they are running late you have to stay, you are literally stuck at the mercy of the parents schedule.

Another big issue among nannies is RESPECTing the position of a nanny as a professional job. Nannies are not hired help, babysitters, or a family member who is doing you a favor. Nannies are professionals with a slightly unconventional office. But it is an office. Jane mentioned in her article that a parent felt trapped "she knew that we needed her more than she needed us". This is something that both the employer and employee feel. As much as the parent may be afraid to communicate or not offer a benefit because they need a nanny - the nanny is just as hesitant to communicate and ask for benefits for fear of being fired. Nanny Lucy compares a big difference from a corporate world to a  nanny world when dealing with disagreements "as nannies, we are often put in uncomfortable and awkward positions, as there is no HR to go to if we need to discuss any issues. We must decide what to do all on our own".

In the article "The Rise of the Diva Nanny" the one thing that rand really clear was that the parents/bosses were not feeling appreciated for what they were offering to  the nanny/potential  nanny. No matter what field of work a person is in, APPRECIATION is the motivation to keep great relationships.

Myra*, part-time nanny, tells us her story: "often, nannies find these types of situations difficult: a mom hovering over everything, little freedom to do your job, and babies that make you feel crazy at times. The difference for me was that I had incredible bosses. They recognized the value of having someone qualified and dedicated to care for the children they wanted to badly, and they never took me for granted. Most importantly, they knew what a great, often frustrating, and sometimes downright hard task it is to raise children. The had no misconceptions that they could do it alone and were gracious beyond expectations toward those who joined the "village" by which their children were supported. And it made me a netter nanny. Not only did I feel appreciated, I knew it, and it drove me to be the best nanny I could be for them. Yes, I was an employee, but I was valued and cared for. I was firm in my expectations for fair compensation, and was rewarded with so much more".

Myra comment to me "I just think it is important to remember that there are bosses out there who properly value their nannies and diva free situations exits". When articles like Jane's are published and the nanny proffesion is belittled it hard for us to not want to back lash. Myra hits it right on the head, diva free situations can and do exist - more often than not. These situations require that both nanny and parent have mutual respect and appreciation for the difference roles they play in their children's lives. Communication must be open, honest, and clear - without fear of immediate firing or quitting happening.

Instead of having articles that pit parent against nanny - we need to post and publish articles that share how great and wonderful the parent/nanny relationship can be when well cared for.

*All names have been changed to protect the identity of the nanny.

ceconner© 4.16.2015

Friday, April 10, 2015

What's $12.83 Worth to You?

While doing research for an up and coming article I ran across something that I just couldn't wait to share with you. 

So what is $12.83 worth to you? 

Better yet what can you buy for $12.83?
Movie Theater Popcorn and Soda
1lb of Starbuck Houseblend Coffee
A nursing bra at Kohls
3 Cake Pan Set
REI Toddler rain Coat
Oh and according to PayScale a Nanny*!

Even more shocking the United States Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics says the mean hourly rate for childcare is $10.44.

At first the $12.83 didn't seem like such a horrid amount for a nanny salary especially since I grew up in a state in which the current minimum wage is $8.75. So yes paying your nanny over $4 more than the average base paying job seems reasonable.

Then I started looking more into the statistics the Bureau of Labor put out. Curious where on the scale of pay a nanny fell. Never expecting to make as much as a doctor because well they save lives - I am only watching one. Nor as much as lawyers - I don't have the school bills they do. I did however wonder at what point was helping raise a human life less monetarily valuable than the next job. 

So here are some jobs that employers in the US deem more valuable than a nanny: 
Slot Supervisors: yup like the people that take money out of the slot machines.

Landscaping and Grounder Keepers: because keeping your yard clean and put together is more valuable than those living in the house.

Crossing Guards: I don't know how to respond to this one on so many levels.

Private Chef: Because we all know nannies are rarely the ones preparing at least one meal a day. 

I am not bashing or negating any of the jobs that are listed above or their well deserved salary. I am just stating that we as a country on average pay the person who walks your child across the street twice a day more than the person who walks (or drives) your children everywhere. I also realize these are average means for the country - not taking into consideration the demographics of each situation.

So many variables are missing in these statistics such as live-in nannies, benefit packages, food stipends, credit card usage, vehicle allotment, and mileage reimbursement to name a few. Yet...

...Still the bottom line astounds me, nannies are worth about $1.50 more an hour than the person asking if you want fries with that shake.

Looking back at 16 year old me working my first job at an ice cream shop, I worked my butt off at minimum wage and understood that was what the value of serving ice cream with a smile. 26 year old me does not understand how just above minimum wage makes sense when the job is now teaching another human life, caring for and raising another persons child.

*$12.38 is the average hourly rate in the US in 2014

CECONNER © 4.10.2015